Thursday in the 1st Week of Lent

We continue our Lenten journey through the prayers of Holy Mass with today’s

SUPER OBLATA:
Supplicum votis, Domine, esto propitius,
et, populi tui oblationibus precibusque susceptis,
omnium nostrum ad te corda converte.

This elegant prayer was in the 1962 Missale Romanum but it was already in the ancient books, such as the Veronese Sacramentary.

Propitius means "favorable" or, obviously, propitious and the object of favor is usually in the dative.  Esto is a fun imperative, which some call the "Comic/Legal" imperative because it tends to show up in juridical and theatrical texts.  The phrase "propitius esto" sounds like the petition in a litany.  A votum can be a "prayer" or a "petition" as well as a expression of "praise".

LITERAL VERSION:
Be favorable, O Lord, toward the petitions of (us) suppliants,
and, once the prayers and offerings of Your people have been accepted,
turn the hearts of us all toward You.

One of the things I am noticing is that these prayers so far in Lent are concerning changes in direction.  First, we have the upward and downward dynamic of our offering rising and God’s grace descending.  We have also our own interior change of course, or "conversion". 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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2 Responses to Thursday in the 1st Week of Lent

  1. Andrew says:

    It is interesting to note that we also have “supplicibus votis” in Aeneid (8,60) – almost the same as “supplicum votis”.

    And “supplex” is defined as “one who prays kneeling” (qui flexis genibus orat). Actually it comes from “supplicare” – to pray kneeling – (flexis genibus precari) or “sub plicare” literally “to bend or to fold under” (plicare) as in having one’s knees folded. (related English words to plicare are “complicated, application, explication, implication etc). So “supplex” is one who is kneeling.
    And we all heard about kneeling lately.

  2. Woodward says:

    Reading this prayer, and your excellent translation of it, reminds me of just how much theological truth there is in the good old Latin ablative absolute. It is in the very acceptance by God of this prayer that the hearts of those praying it are “converted.” The act of praying, in other words, accomplishes the intention of the prayer itself. This sheds light on the old theological “problem” of how petitionary prayer can ever be efficacious. How can any human request “change” the will of God? In the elegant grammar of this prayer, we are shown the answer — that our asking and God’s granting are indivible parts of a single process.